Evading the Evil Eye – Kveller
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Evading the Evil Eye

Pregnancy can make a woman superstitious. I have never been superstitious, and yet, when the doctor called last August to say I was pregnant, I didn’t know what to do. I only knew that I didn’t want to mess up my first shot at motherhood. So I began adopting behaviors to ward off the evil eye (that old Jewish superstition that if too much attention is paid to you, something bad is bound to happen).

Every pregnancy book hammers home that the first trimester is the riskiest. So, why jinx it? My husband and I agreed not to announce the life growing inside me until I had safely cleared week 14.

This was both easier and harder than I had anticipated. On the one hand, my morning sickness was so intense that I spent my days hopped up on Zofran and sleeping 13 hours a day, hoping for any relief from my perpetual nausea. I withdrew almost entirely from my social life, so there was little danger of my slipping and telling anyone. Of course, when I did go out, I was a wreck. Preparing for a job interview, I realized that my biggest fear was throwing up on my interviewer. I began carrying a paper bag whenever I went out–just in case.

Soon, the time came to tell the family our big news. Both sets of grandparents were over the moon. This would be my parents’ first grandchild.

Family and friends began asking about the baby registry. Still low on energy, I had no interest in shopping for onesies and furniture, or anything really. Happily, my husband and I agreed to follow a Jewish superstition and not bring baby things into our home pre-baby. Thwarting evil eye once again!

To continue to avoid the evil eye, I decided not to have a baby shower. The Conservative rabbi I consulted explained that the tradition of not having a baby shower is custom and not law, and that is essentially based on a superstition, the gist of which is to evade the evil eye. The risk of losing the fetus was greater in the past, but with modern medicine it is less of an issue. Knowing the back story made me feel more educated, but the whole idea of a shower still didn’t sit right with me. So rather than have a traditional shower with gifts, I opted for a giftless girls’ night out; the evil eye was not on the guest list.

Meanwhile, my family continued to check in about whether I had prepared a registry, and my husband asked if I were sure I didn’t want to get cracking on it. I didn’t. I stuck to my plan and spent March comparing checklists from an old friend (mother of one) and my sister-in-law (mother of two), along with the indispensable Baby Bargains and parents’ comments on Amazon.com. Before the month ended, I quietly posted my thoroughly researched registry online. I made sure our families knew it was available, but I didn’t publicize it. In a sense, it was there in case anyone needed it.

I started out this pregnancy nervous. But at some point, I became sort of Zen. After 32 years as a Type A personality, I simply felt certain that things would work out as they should. Interestingly, it has been those around me, my husband and the grandparents, who have become more nervous.

For various hazy reasons, everyone has become convinced the baby could arrive early. So, now I humor them. In recent weeks, I have greenlighted the grandparents’ buying a few starter essentials. The car seat has arrived at my parents’. Our pack and play bassinet is on its way to our tiny apartment. And for the time being, our baby girl remains a comfortable lodger in the Hotel Mommy. She’ll arrive in her own good time, and until then, we’ll make sure she has a few of her own things here at our apartment. Perhaps we’ll even buy her a hamsa to hang over her as she sleeps, always keeping the evil at bay. After all, it can’t hurt.

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